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Timeline of the Swansea Canal

The Swansea Canal boasts a rich history dating back 225 years.

From its early beginnings as a vital waterway connecting the Tawe Valley to Swansea, to its existence today in control of Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, in partnership with the Swansea Canal Society.

Take a look at our timeline looking back at the major milestones of the canal.

You can also find out more with our detailed storyline of the Swansea Canal.

Canal at Godre'r Graig 1930 (credit: Edward Tucker)

1793

A public meeting is held to raise subscriptions for a canal along the Tawe Valley

1794

Act passed for the construction of the Swansea and Trewdyffa Canals

1796

The canal opens from Swansea to Godre'r-Graig

1798

Swansea Canal completed to the terminus at Hen Neuadd below Abercraf

1828

Branch canals are added for Ynyscedwyn Ironworks and Waun Coed Colliery

1834

Brecon Forest Tramroad extended to Gurnos Wharf at Ystradgynlais

1837

Pontardawe Brewery is built with a wharf to deliver beer to canalside pubs

Maintenance barge at Ynysmeudwy Ganol Bridge 1924 (credit: Swansea Canal Society)

1838

Construction of Ystalyfera Ironworks - within 20 years the largest in the world

1844

Ynysmeudwy Pottery opens using the canal as its main means of transportation

1852

Completion of North Dock in Swansea brings a great increase in canal traffic

1860

Canal tolls reduced as railways compete for trade

1873

Swansea Canal purchased by the Great Western Railway

Bridge at Cwm Clydach Lock 1949 (credit: Swansea Canal Society)

1895

The canal makes a loss for the first time and decline sets in

1902

The Bruner Mond Co. builds the largest nickel refinery in the world at Clydach

1904

Commercial traffic on the canal ceases above Pontardawe

1918

Grace Darling is the last canal boat built on the Swansea Canal

1931

End of commercial boat traffic and start of closures

1948

Canal ownership passes from GWR to the British Transport Commission

Whitsun Monday outing 1923 (credit: Swansea Canal Society)

1958

Last recorded horse-drawn boat trip at Clydach

1962

Remaining 5 miles of navigable canal transferred to British Waterways

1981

The newly formed Swansea Canal Society commences restoration

2012

Swansea Canal transferred to Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales

Last Edited: 23 June 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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